In commemoration of the 2021 World Health Day, some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are advocating increased investment in the health sector to restore crumbling services for women and children in the Nigeria.
In a joint statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, the organisations said there is need for government to invest in equity enhancing strategies to protect women and their newborns.
“(COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities, putting at risk hard won gains that have been made over the past decade,” said the Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), Helga Fogstad.
“Ensuring that women, children and adolescents are protected from the disproportionate indirect social and economic of the pandemic and associated financial crisis will require action from all stakeholders,” he said.
The World Health Day is marked on April 7 every year to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern to people all over the World.
This year’s annual celebration is being held at the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to threaten improvement in health and social services.
The theme for this year’s World Health Day is ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’, to remind us of a need to invest in equity enhancing strategies to address the needs of the most vulnerable, according to Mr Fogstad.
Muhammad Usman, Chair of the National Advocates for Health (NA4H), said women and children have been negatively affected by the pandemic due to the disruptions of essential health, nutrition and social services.
Mr Usman said the budgetary allocation for health services in the country is low.
“I am therefore calling on both federal and state governments to improve budgetary allocations and timely release of funds for health interventions, particularly for family planning, nutrition, primary healthcare – including the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund – and the national health insurance for universal health coverage,” he said.
The Convener of the Nigerian Youth Champions for Universal Health Coverage (NYC4UHC) said young people account for a majority of Nigeria’s population.
He said the government must invest in the health of young people by ensuring that all primary healthcare centres are adequately staffed, equipped and functional to provide access to health services.
“This includes sexual and reproductive health services, mental health services and essential life-saving drugs and commodities,” he said.
Recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) from 105 countries show that 90 per cent of countries have experienced disruptions to health services, with low- and middle-income countries reporting the greatest difficulties.
Some of the most frequently disrupted services include those related to immunisation services, family planning and contraception services.
According to the WHO, about 20 per cent of all global maternal deaths occurred in Nigeria, with over 600,000 maternal deaths and about 900,000 maternal near-miss cases between 2005 and 2015 respectively.
A woman in Nigeria has a 1-in-22 lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum/post-abortion compared with the lifetime risk of 1 in 4900 in the most developed countries.
Nigeria’s large population size and high women, children and adolescent morbidity and mortality means that the country’s progress can significantly shift the development in Africa and globally.
The latest “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality” from UNICEF shows that Nigeria recorded an estimated 858,000 under-five deaths in 2019.
With about 7.4 million children currently born annually in Nigeria, improved policy and investment in infant and child health is crucial to prevent an increase in under-5 mortality.
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